Community, Church & Power Lines

by Laura on July 5, 2011

Enjoy this post from the archives {originally written January 2011}.  It’s one of my personal favorites. I think I just like the pictures.

Community is a tangle of lives.

It’s a continuous intersection of time and opinions–

a chaotic convergence of Stories and personalities.

Community means inconvenient birthday parties and trashed playrooms and awkward moments when you have to get your kid to stop hitting theirs.

Community means calling her when she’s hiding and it means loving well– even when they get on your nerves.

And it costs– money, time, Saturday mornings, privacy, pride.

And Community is always, always messy–

Sometimes painfully so.

But the Mess doesn’t negate the value, the necessity, of the Coming Together.

The connection.  The rest.  The sharing of the Common.

Because after the joining, comes the

speeding of Life down wires to a million different places.

And I wonder if Church should become more like the Asian Utility Pole

a continuous, messy intersecting

Tied together, then going out,

again and again and again.

*******************************

Within church or not, who makes up your Community right now?  Do you think the American Church fosters authentic Community?


  • flyinjuju

    We moved a year and a half ago from MI to FL and have had a hard time finding community. We are slowly building friendships, but most of them have not come through church, which is usually where they do come from. :) I recently met a couple of ladies who were so refreshing, and after trying to figure out why my heart just loved them, I realized it is because they seem real, laid back, and loving. All things that are a blessing. I pray that we can build a strong community, with different groups/types of people. As a whole I think people struggle with community. I also think this varies hugely in different regions, but it seems like people keep to themselves more and I wonder if that is because we are all trying to live up to some perfect expectation and we don’t feel like we can let people see us in all of our messiness. But we all have it. Anyway, I would love to hear how you build community over there. I have not doubt that is a challenging thing to do. Thanks for always making me think. Hugs to you.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Tamara and Flyinjuju and Aly,

      FEAR. I think it’s so valid that you each brought that up, because fear of being known, fear of failing, fear of not being perfect and being exposed– those are hard waters to step into so often. It is risky to give yourself fully, to pursue relationship.

      So often for me, I wait until the “perfect” opportunity, instead of just picking people that are in my circle, picking up the phone, and setting up a dinner for this week. I wait and wait, and then it never happens . . .

  • http://mommiediariesblog.blogspot.com Aly

    i hate this subject, because it is something that i am lacking, big time. i think it’s exactly as “flyinjuju” said above: “because we are all trying to live up to some perfect expectation and we don’t feel like we can let people see us in all of our messiness.” that is exactly why i shy away from it. and i think that’s exactly why my husband shys away from it… we are just recently beginning to reach out and get involved [together] in our [really big] church… interestingly, it’s on the heels of some pretty huge “messiness”. i’ve always been involved, but he hasn’t. and i was only involved enough to not have to be vulnerable and let people in to the “messiness”. this new thing [getting involved, both of us] is exciting and awkward all at the same time, but i’m praying it is exactly what God is asking us to do… that He’ll bless it.

    gosh this post came right at the perfect time! thank you!
    Aly recently posted..beauty for ashes

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Aly, so neat that it hit you at an important time in your journey towards connection. Keep walking towards it, friend. Island-living really stinks.

      And it is challenging when you are married to find friends that both husband and wife want to connect with and enjoy. And then you add the dynamic of kids and parenting, and it’s a whole other hurdle to jump.

  • Tamara

    Hmmmm, finding it hard to locate community right now.
    I agree w/ the above that we hesitate to enter (as do others) into authenticity because we’re afraid. And we arent’ supposed to be afraid! Over and over Scripture tells us not to be afraid and yet, here I am. Here we are. So, authentic community coming from the church would be ideal but it doesn’t always happen there. And that’s ok, too.
    No, I do not think the church fosters authentic community precisely because it’s made up of us fallen – and saved – humans!! We have to give our pastors and other leader permission to be authentic. And we have to give each other permission. Which really boils down to letting each other know it’s’ ok to fail. It’s ok to fail bc we have the model of Christ saying, “I forgive you.” We get to try to replicate Christ! Wa-hoo!

  • Logan

    Loved this post Laura. And I think it’s so so true and so so important. For me, we’re in a great season of community and have been for awhile. (Did come after a period of real wilderness in many ways though.) And honestly for me, I’ve found it when I have been the most vulnerable and authentic. I think people see straight through something that is false and as a rule, noone wants to invest themselves in someone who isn’t “real.” Real people like real people…and I think when we’re willing to drop our guard a bit and let people in, we’ll be surprised at how community flows right out of that. Love you friend and praying fervently for you to be overwhelmed with community over there!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Logan– YES . . . . “real people like real people.” Absolutely, and real community can’t happen without true authenticity.

      Love you, too, friend of my childhood. :)

  • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com kendal

    the time. that’s the hardest for me to sacrifice to community. time to listen and love when another needs it. and yes, i believe that some american churches foster community at least in small groups. because i’m there.
    kendal recently posted..when the cape unravels

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Good, Kendal– awesome that you are tasting community, within the church. That’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. I do think that some kind of smaller group connection is vital to making relationships within the church. It’s hard to feel connected naturally to a big group for an hour on sunday, facing forward, if you don’t have additional relationships outside of that.

  • http://amylsullivan.blogspot.com/ Amy Sullivan

    Laura Parker,
    How perfect are these pictures for this AMAZING post?

    Yes, the cost is pride and Saturday mornings and birthday party after birthday party, but I do believe when we sift through it all community is there, and community is vital.

    You are still one of my fav, favorite voices out here. Good work, girl.
    Amy Sullivan recently posted..Share Your Story Meet Rachel Molder-A Year of Muffins

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Amy,

      Do you have the gift of encouragement? Like, really, do you?

      I think I wanna be your real-life friend.

  • http://www.stumblingaroundinthelight.com Teri Miller

    I think true community grows with time, time, time… It is hard work to invest in new relationships, sacrificial to cultivate those intertwined connections. And it goes slow; there’s no way to hurry true friendship along. It grows when you suffer the hard stuff together, and help one another out, and celebrate the big and small and silly.
    After 8 years in WP – I’m just starting to feel that I belong, that I have community, and connectedness running deep. Forged thru some painful stuff. Cemented over tears and laughter and cups of coffee and glasses of wine. Steeped in time.
    So. Grateful.
    Love the reminder, the imagery of the wires. Thanks Laura.
    Teri Miller recently posted..My Last First Birthday

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Teri– yes, the ingredient of TIME.
      Time to make memories and walk through the hard things and the things worth celebrating. Absolutely. And so often, we approach community with a “short-term investment” mindset, assuming that if we don’t see deep relationships after 6 months, then its not worth pursuing.

  • http://www.hopeworks.ca Michelle

    Beautiful analogy!! Community is for sure messy and tiresome at times, but so incredibly worth it!! And to answer your question, I think the American church struggles to find authentic community. Small group churches seem to be getting a handle on it, from what I have heard from some friends who attend home churches. We are blessed that we have a great church here in South Africa, but it is for sure “messy” at times! :-)

  • http://www.hopeworks.ca Michelle

    You are so great at follow-up comments, so I have to leave another comment so I can check the little box – to get your lovely replies! ;-)

  • Tamara

    Just another thought about the images: POWER lines. Connecting to each other, even though and especially when it’s messy, is so powerful. I have rarely left time of connecting with other believers that I haven’t gained something encouraging.

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  • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

    Hey! When were you in Bolivia taking pictures of our power poles??? ;-)
    @ngie recently posted..Ice-cream and a Beauty Parlor

  • Lanette

    Wonderful post. Community is messy but we need it to function properly. I have gone through periods in my life where I was super involved and times when I was not. Your analogy was great and along with it I think we have to remember that sometimes one of those wires is going to weaken or break and then someone has to step in and fix it or eventually the lights are aligning to go out. There was a point where my life was unraveling and no one seemed to step up to help or the way they did resulted in breaking me more. The chuch I think has to work on this. Real people with real problems and real messes make up these communities. If we can’t be real without fear of judgement then eventually things just won’t work. If we can’t reach out and help when maybe it’s not so comfortable things don’t work. Myself I have had to learn to let people in and be transparent. Not always easy, but doing that has helped me find at least a small community of Christian ladies that I dearly love. Again wonderful and thought provoking post!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Lanette, Thank you so much for offering your story with Community here. It’s a good, realistic picture of how it’s hard and messy and I loved this quote of yours,
      “Real people with real problems and real messes make up these communities. If we can’t be real without fear of judgement then eventually things just won’t work.”

      I SO agree with this. Isn’t this what real Community that TRANSFORMS is??

      Thanks, Lanette! Loved reading your words this morning. . .

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